Early sketch of neurons, Santiago Ramón y Cajal

The patient doctor hovers over his doctor patient’s head, which is elaborately tented everywhere but the window they’ve cut through his skull. A spider’s nest of electrodes collects into a single fat cable that feeds a giant flat panel display suspended above the operating table, from which emerges a shifting kaleidoscope of images and sounds.

—I’m going to start now, Dr Swann.

—I’m ready, the man on the table replies.

Leaning closer, the surgeon’s scalpel slices through Swann’s grey matter with surprising tenderness, causing him no pain at all. The screen blinks black-bright three times, then resumes.

We waltz beneath our dendritic arbor’s tangled branches, holding on to each other, ourselves, and who we were. Flicker-flashes of feelings, brought on moment by moment, step by step, each feeling a taste, each taste a color—bittersweet violet melancholy poured over ice, mam’s butter-yellow biscuits dissolved in tea, scarlet first kiss sweet spice melting on our tongues, melting us.

—Really? Dr Swann’s wife asks.

—I didn’t mean to remember her.

—But you did.

—At least you know I’ll never forget you.

—Small consolation.

The screen crackles, shows static, snaps back into focus.

Eyes across the room, green buds of possibility that taste of spring. Running, drenched in a downpour, laughing, we duck into a doorway and kiss. We are hot, white electricity. Deep brown whiskey sulking followed by dandelion yellow and nasturtium orange forgiveness.

—Can you hear me? she asks.

—I can.

The starshine-bright happy surprise of a chance meeting in the middle of a workday, sweet and then bitter as we return to work instead of bed. The shift to plum-colored contentedness, spooned like cobbler from one to another, as we spoon under a heavy winter comforter.

—It’s over, Dr Swann. The procedure went perfectly.

—How do you feel, darling?

—In every way possible.

He kept thinking something he’d read once in a book, “Science is the poetry of the intellect and poetry the science of the heart’s affections.”


This entry is part of Jack Rusher’s archive, originally published January 14th, 2011, in New York.